(MY NOVEL UPDATE) – I’ve decided to turn one of my short stories into a novel! This is the first of a short series of posts about the beginnings of that journey. Come along for the ride!
Today, I want to say, Welcome to Season 2!
Wait, what? Derek, I didn’t even know we were doing Seasons here? Did I miss something?
No, you didn’t miss anything. Let me explain.
I’ve approached this journey with this Podcast with the attitude of “why not?” I loved the idea (and still do), so why the hell not, right? And also because I have this endless desire to create and always with the hope that what I create can inspire someone else to take that leap to bring their own ideas and dreams into reality.
So, it’s along that vein, that I decided to take this little detour and do something a bit different over the next month or so. Because, why not?
Today, I want to extend to you an invitation, to go on a little journey with me as I write my first novel.
“That’s right, you heard it here first folks, coming out of nowhere, he’s going to the top, to the very top, and onto the NYT Bestseller list, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first.”
Take out my old-time baseball announcer voice there, and that’s my Granddad speaking. I can hear him saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen.” If you knew my Granddad you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But, yes, I’ve decided to go down this path and to go down it full force. To hold nothing back, hold no fear, destroy doubt, and just do it.
In today’s episode, I want to explain how this all came about, why I’m doing it, and what you can expect from this Podcast going forward. I also hope that along the way you’ll see that this Podcast is still going to be a place for you to come to fill your day with something good.
Here we go:
I was working on the Podcast as usual. I had a story idea, I outlined the story and started writing the story. Then, something happened. Fire. Not like a real fire, but a fire in my mind. I mean, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the stories I’ve written so far, but this one here grabbed hold of me like none of the others before. Just a lot more details kept flooding my mind. More characters, and the complete backstory for those characters. More subplots and minor story arcs and major story arcs. And not just for one story, but for four different stories. I outlined a four-story series around my main character, a crime-fighting detective called Jewel. Yea, as I said, fire.
The plan was that each one of these stories would be a short story that I would write throughout the next year giving you a new story with Jewel every few months. Last week though I found myself at a crossroads. I wrote the story to about the halfway point, but it was still way longer than any of the other episodes I’ve written. About 15 pages longer. I also was cutting things short, and leaving out a lot of the detail I had in my head to try to get the length down and get to the end sooner. I mean, in 12,000 words, I never even described what Jewel looks like!
What are my options? I thought. I could just release the story as is, a little long, and without all the details I’d like to throw in. Or, I could put off the release of the episode for another week or two and try to work in some of those details I left out. Maybe even turn this into a three or four-part story.
I always have my wife, Victoria, read my stories and poke holes in it, things that don’t make sense, or that I need to make more transparent and so on. This time, she read it, came to me with the usual questions, and my answer kept being something along the lines of… “Yea, well, I have this whole explanation and backstory there in my head, but there wasn’t space for it.”
Then, the third option came up thanks to Victoria. She said, “Why not just write the whole story without worrying about how long it is?”
BOOM. Mind. Blown.
But, then good ole doubt, of course, came in. I had to think this over. It’s a big idea in my mind to take on something like writing a novel. I obviously chose to do it, but why? Why should you choose to go after your dream? Let’s find out.
So, I had this decision to make, and when you have a decision to make I find it best to go with the fire, the passion. That, and to go with the synchronicities that surround you, or those little pushes and pulls that come out of nowhere to guide us. The “oh, wow,” coincidences.
Three weeks ago I got an ad on FaceBook for a writer’s workshop here in Charlotte, NC. It sounded cool, so I wanted to read more. The whole seminar is about teaching aspiring writers how to navigate the industry. How to get an agent, a publisher, how to write a query letter… I had no idea what that was, but it turns out it’s pretty important. Already learning! Nice. I signed up with the simple intention to go and learn. There are a lot of other additions to add on to your ticket like having an actual agent read your query letter and critique it. Or, have an agent read the first 10 pages of your novel and critique it, or potentially love it and sign you. Again, my intention was just to go there and learn.
Then, last week, at my crossroads, deciding whether I should just put out the Podcast story, and let you all imagine what Jewel looks like, or go for writing this story full out, it hit me. I have a novel that wants to be written, that’s trying to break out of me, and I also have this really cool event I’m going to next month where I can have an actual agent read my work.
Sometimes, it’s written in the stars, and the stars align. We can either ignore it, and brush it off as a coincidence, or see it as what I believe it to be; guidance.
So, that’s what I decided to do. I decided not to put out a good version of this story, but the best I can give. I decided to work this next month on this story, fleshing out the details I took out to make things shorter, and really letting my mind just pour out onto the page with no restrictions and see what happens. I tell you, sleeping has been an issue because I can’t stop scenes from pouring into my brain of my villain and my hero. As I said earlier… fire.
There is 1 month until this workshop, and this is the challenge I’m giving myself. I don’t know if finishing a novel in 1 month is too intense of a goal, so I’m going to shoot for having the full outline completed and have the first half of the story written. Now, what does this mean for this Podcast?
This journey I’d like you all to join me on this month is about discovery. Discovering what happens when you take a chance. I’ve already taken a chance with creating this Podcast. I’ve seen it through to 6 episodes, 54,000 words, and 215 pages, and I don’t think it’s the end either. As I said at the beginning of today’s episode, we’re entering Season 2. Who knows what Season 3 will bring?
What I plan to do is release a few episodes on this Podcast documenting my progress, or perhaps lack of progress, and also talk about certain things that are popping up along the way that I think is important for anyone out there who is pursuing a dream of their own. So, if you’re trying to chase a dream, or find a dream to chase, I want Season 2 here to give you some great ideas to get you there, and also to be able to walk alongside me as we go after these dreams together.
I mean, that’s what this Podcast has always been about anyway. It’s always been to inspire you all to take a leap towards something that you might be afraid of, but that you really want to do or create. It’s to entertain, and I hope I can still do that as well. I mean, how good was my baseball announcer voice, right?
So, where do we go from here…
Now, I want to give you a taste of what I’ll be delivering over the next month or so.
The first thing I think is essential to think about when going after a dream is what I talked about in the very first episode of this Podcast. Jump in and just get started. I already did that by writing 52 pages of this story, which lit the fire and led to this amazing and perhaps crazy idea. So, now what?
Well, I’ll just tell you what I did.
I did some numbers. You see, to chase a dream you have to believe it’s possible. Before I started the Podcast and started writing these short stories, I was working on a different novel. I will write it one day, but for now, I have to let the current fire run its course.
But why didn’t I finish that novel in the first place? Well, the first thing that stopped me was outlining and keeping track of all the ideas I had and planning and just the organization of it all. It was daunting, and it overwhelmed me. So, it more or less stopped me because I lacked the belief that I could keep all those details together. I still worked on it from time to time, but I didn’t have the confidence or the skill set to really overcome that hurdle.
Enter, Podcast! In 6 months I have learned to outline a story really well. I’ve developed a system to break things down piece by piece. I’ve developed a way for me to stay organized, a way for me to just brainstorm freely, and I also believe I’ve become a much better writer along the way. Now, outlining is never a thought. It’s just something that I do that’s part of the process. I don’t worry about getting the ideas straight, or the chapters outlined. It seems very natural to me now.
But, Derek… you might say… those were short stories, surely outlining a novel must be much more arduous and much more complex?
Good point, and the same thought I had. This is where I decided to do some numbers and a little research. Remember, this is all about developing the belief, and there’s one thing I can always wrap my head around, and that’s numbers. If I feel it’s possible, then I like to follow up and prove that it is.
Bare with me here, because I think doing this, or something similar is really helpful for making your dream seem closer than it might have initially appeared. Knowing where you are and where you need to be. How far is that gap? Is it something that I can build a bridge between, or do I need a damn plane?
The longest story I wrote so far was Ripples because it was in 2 parts totaling around 18,000 words.
Ok, so how does word count translate to printed novel pages? Man, you ask such good questions!
It turns out that a manuscript is typically double spaced, and uses 12-point font and averages between 250 and 300 words per page. Oh! That’s good news because I use 11-point font and single space. The average adult novel is around 400 pages, and the average young adult novel is around 240 pages.
So, where am I? Currently, I’m at 12,000 words, which with my font and single space put me at 22 pages. Switch to double space and 12-point font and BAM! I’m at 52 pages! Alright, now we’re getting somewhere.
Even if I kept things short and sweet, and never described what Jewel looks like I’m easily going to hit over 100 pages no problem. I just have to double it at a minimum, and with all the extra information and details in my brain, this is totally possible. This is bridgeable in my mind. That was really cool to work out. If you didn’t follow all the numbers there, that’s alright, the point was for me to determine that this is a possibility. That it’s not so far beyond what I’m already doing and have done.
Maybe, to you, it seems more like I need a plane, but all that matters is how it looks to me because I’m the one in the driver’s seat. And that’s the same for you. If you have a dream, you just need to find the right numbers that make it bridgeable. Or the right possible set of circumstances that make it seem within your grasp. If you don’t like doing the math, do something else. Even if everyone around you sees the need for a plane, sees that you’re way, way, way away from hitting that goal of yours, it doesn’t matter. If you can see it, if you can believe it, you’ll take the first step to get there, and that’s the hardest step. Just remember, from The Missing Sheriff, to protect your mind along the way. Don’t let anything or anyone make you start to believe your bridge is a little too long or a little too narrow, and that it’s bound to crumble. What’s possible is a matter of belief, not fact, because what’s possible in this World is beyond any of our comprehensions. There are just too many positive possibilities out there for me to be anything but an optimist.
That was the whole last episode… Inter|View. That one dreamed up possible future of mine has since gone to many many different places in my mind. That exercise isn’t just about writing down what you want, but about seeing that there are a million ways for your dreams to happen. There are a million ways your life will turn out amazing.
And that’s where I am today. I am feeling really excited, really pumped up, and that this is going to be really fun. My excitement and pumped up-ness might be scaring Victoria a little, but hey, she gave me permission to let the monster out of the cage!
Two last points before I sign off here for today.
First, is that I believe that sometimes the choices we make in life are merely to get us to make another choice later on. The point being, to not get too hung up on the idea that we need to have everything in life figured out before we move forward. That’s an excellent way to stand still. Trust me, I’ve been there. I look at my journey with the Podcast, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I don’t know where it’s going to go, but the one thing I’m certain of is that it was all to prepare me for this moment now. To prepare myself to have the skills I feel I possess, to have the practice under my belt, and to have the confidence to believe that it’s possible. If it all goes tits up… as the Brits like to say… then guess what… I’ll be back a month later, with another story and not with my tail between my legs either.
I’ll come back further invigorated. If I go to write this novel and it comes out to be garbage, at least I tried. The one thing I know right now is that I’m going to finish it. I didn’t have that confidence a year ago.
If I do return to writing a short story once a month… well, I actually hope I do, either way, success with the novel or not; I just have so much fun with it. But, if I return to writing a short story a month for this Podcast and the novel went nowhere, I won’t feel failure at all. I’ll only feel pride in taking the leap. Happiness in the accomplishment of actually finishing a novel. And excitement to find the next story that fills my mind day and night; another story that lights that fire.
This is the second point and something I’ve learned along the way from going through this whole Podcast journey. Every path I take, and could or will ever take will always be seen as a win-win to me. There’s no path I could walk that won’t bring me somewhere good. All roads lead to Rome. Every attempt at a dream, every quest into the unknown, if you live with this perspective, there is no lingering disappointment if an idea didn’t work out as planned. There is also no fear to try and to try again.
This all comes full circle to how we started today; with the way to approach your dreams, to approach life itself, with the attitude of, “Why not?”
Stay tuned, stay connected with me on Instagram and Facebook at The Roaming Scholar, and don’t forget to subscribe so you know when I release the next update on this journey… not in a month, but maybe in a week or two.
I hope you all have a truly fantastic week ahead, and when that wild idea comes to you, or when you think of the dream you had a year ago, just say, “Why not?” And do it.
All my best,